Do your home-buying discussions end up going over the same ground and getting you no where fast?
Whenever you and your partner, and any others involved in making your key real estate decisions, sit down together to discuss plans and possibilities, do stress levels gradually rise even though you never make any buying decisions you can all stick to? Do you harbor differing viewpoints on style (condominium vs house)? Do you disagree on rural vs urban, or are you stuck on which is the ideal neighborhood? When it comes to finances, are you battling over which price range makes sense, or are you back at the "rent vs own" starting line?
Does one of you seem to expect more compromises of the other, or are each of you locked into your own definitions of "dream home" with no common ground in sight?
Are family pressures about lending or borrowing money or living closer to or further from family interfering with your housing dreams?
Are the fears or concerns of one of you regarding lifestyle changes or job security making it difficult to take a calm, rational look at all the options? Is one of you focused on the financial pressure of carrying a mortgage while the other is intent on possible positive lifestyle changes?
Are you frustrated because you're re-hashing the same arguments and getting stuck with the same indecisive dead-ends, so you're both ready to say "forget it" about home ownership when that's not how either of you feel at all?
This column looks at "Decisions & Communities" because those are two of the most important elements of our lives, and yet they are two things we are most poorly prepared to handle. Search back through the +500 articles in this column and you'll find practical, creative decision making tools and suggestions, and you'll discover a wide variety of ways to identify "community" in every aspect of real estate ownership and buying. Here, I'm asking again: "Do you have a specific, practical decision-making process to help you achieve the best real estate gains with the minimum amount of hassle, financial and otherwise?"
Since you may be a first-time or first-time-in-a-long-time real estate buyer, you probably don't have a complete process in place. If frustration, confusion, and stress keep popping up, you definitely have significant gaps in your decision-making process since this process is the key to reducing all negative feelings and reactions and transforming them into constructive action.
You are also probably overlooking a powerful resource - your real estate professional - who has years of experience successfully helping buyers and sellers make solid real estate decisions they can live with.
These professionals are trained to help their clients confidently make decisions they can live with, even if they have never made real estate or major financial decisions before.
Real estate professionals bring their foresight on location, financial, and other relevant factors into force so, in hindsight, you'll know you've made the best real estate decisions. They are expert at translating overwhelming and varied lists of wanna-haves, must-haves, and didn't-know-we-needed items into practical, creative real estate solutions designed specifically to fit the needs of each client.
These professionals are skilled, experienced communicators, who can help you and your partner, even your family, express ideas, suggestions, fears, and concerns to achieve harmony and common ground in what are often very stressful times. Once the lines of communication are professionally opened, you'll see each other as a resource not as an adversary.
Are you using this valuable, knowledgeable, decision making resource to your full advantage? If you met with the real estate professional and presented your list of "gotta haves" with little discussion about how you arrived at the list and how you decided what was left off the list, then you may have short-changed yourself and your partner. Maybe you even emailed or texted your list so you could get started on the hunt—this is like ordering from a fast-food menu, not communicating what is unique about "your real estate appetite" to an attentive expert. Leaving the professional to fill in the blanks about you and your family needs can waste valuable time for everyone. You'll never know whether you missed out on a property that would not make your list, but that was dream fit for you. You and your partner don't have extensive experience evaluating properties and matching buyers with real estate functionality and long-term fit. Your real estate professional has.
These professionals are trained to find a "home" for "a family," "a couple," or "a solo," but you reduce their efficiency if you withhold details about what "home" means to you and how it will be valuable in each person's life and work.
If you want a perfect fit for your business and your life, the real estate professional can't get really creative until they know all about your customers and what your business represents to them and to how you live.
Before you sit down to another conversation about buying (or selling, for that matter) real estate that will take you over the same ground with your partner, why not arrange for your real estate professional to join you to explore the topic fully before you try to make any decisions. If you aim for a fresh start, you'll probably be surprised at what you overlooked, misinterpreted, and mistakenly assumed. With fresh professional perspectives and well-proven knowledge added to your conversation, your decisions will take on new life and guide you to your new real estate.